Spiti Travelogue: Day 6

Kun­gri and Ki Gom­pas: My first vis­it to a Tibetan Monastery

Lahaul and Spi­ti are known for their monas­ter­ies, local­ly called ‘Gom­pas’, which are great repos­i­to­ries of Bud­dhist faith and art trea­sures. Some of the inter­est­ing fea­tures of the flag-bedecked gom­pas are the huge bar­rel-like prayer drums, which revolve at slight touch. The ‘lamas’ rotate them dur­ing med­i­ta­tion. There are also ornate paint­ings of gods and demons.

I had nev­er been to a monastery before, and hence was very curi­ous and eager to see one. We had break­fast, and were soon on our way towards the Kun­gri Gom­pa in the Pin Val­ley. There was a bridge where we crossed the Spi­ti Riv­er and went from Spi­ti to Pin Val­ley. This ride was the first ride in which we saw a sub­stan­tial part of the Spi­ti Val­ley. The rocky moun­tain land­scape eas­i­ly helped one visu­al­ize how seis­mo­log­i­cal activ­i­ty had cre­at­ed the Himalayas. The colos­sal size of the moun­tains on both sides of the Spi­ti Riv­er made all the moun­tains I had seen ear­li­er in my life seem like dwarfs.

Bridge from Spiti to Pin Valley

The bridge con­nect­ing the Spi­ti and Pin val­leys…

We crossed the Spi­ti Riv­er and entered the Pin Val­ley. The Pin val­ley is the abode of the snow leop­ard and the Siber­ian Ibex. One can spot hordes of Ibex in the high­er reach­es of the val­ley, but we were not plan­ning to go that far.

Spiti and Pin Valley 1 Spiti and Pin Valley 2

The images above show the meet­ing points of the Spi­ti and Pin val­ley moun­tains

Kun­gri gom­pa was built in the year 1330 AD. The entrance to the gom­pa was very short, so one had to kneel in order to go inside. The only light inside was a lamp in front of the Buddha’s main fig­ure. Oth­er areas of the gom­pa were thus in almost total dark­ness. In the dim light, we roamed around and could dis­cern fres­co paint­ings on the walls.Kungri Gompa 1

     Kungri Gompa 4      Kungri Gompa 3 

These images show the entrance, inte­ri­ors, man­u­scripts, idols, and fres­coes of the Kun­gri Gom­pa. Iron­i­cal­ly, we couldn’t see these clear­ly when we were inside. We saw these in detail only after we devel­oped these images!

 

Ki Monastery

We returned to Kaza, had lunch, and went the oth­er way to the Ki monastery. This is the biggest monastery in Spi­ti val­ley, and is sit­u­at­ed between Kaza and Kib­ber, on a hill­top. Fur­ther on that route is Kib­ber, the high­est inhab­it­ed vil­lage in the world, where in spite of vagaries of nature and drops of tem­per­a­ture below -35 C, peo­ple are still sur­viv­ing. As soon as we began approach­ing it, the hill­top was an immense­ly breath­tak­ing sight. At an alti­tude of 13,500 ft, a huge hill topped with hous­es on all sides, right up to the top! We could not imag­ine how they had con­struct­ed these hous­es on the hill­side.

The Ki monastery was found­ed in between 1008 AD and 1064 AD. The monastery is famous for its Thankas (paint­ings on cloth with won­der­ful com­po­si­tions of geo­met­ri­cal arrange­ments) and musi­cal instru­ments. There are two trum­pets, which are three meters in length! This gom­pa was bet­ter light­ed hence we could see the artis­tic trea­sures much bet­ter. They had per­mit­ted pho­tog­ra­phy inside, and I could catch good pic­tures of fas­ci­nat­ing artis­tic trea­sures.

Ki Monastery Idols

We returned to Kaza for din­ner and had Lugri (Chhang in local lan­guage), the local alco­holic drink. It is made with but­ter­milk and almost tastes the same, hence was very appeal­ing to a but­ter­milk fan like me. It was a relief to spend a nor­mal day for a change — a relaxed, planned day, with no unex­pect­ed sur­pris­es, unwant­ed adven­tures, or dis­as­ters!

Monastery Fresco Paintings

Next: Day 7

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